Tourism greatly boosting African economies

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The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development’s annual Economic Development in Africa Report projects continued robust growth in tourism in the coming years. Image courtesy: Rosolo Safaris
The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development’s annual Economic Development in Africa Report projects continued robust growth in tourism in the coming years. Image courtesy: Rosolo Safaris

A new reports suggests that tourism in Africa is boosting the continent’s economy and handing millions jobs.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development’s annual Economic Development in Africa Report projects continued robust growth in tourism in the coming years.

The growth figures in Africa’s tourism sector alone are impressive, and the World Travel and Tourism Council projects the total contribution of tourism to Africa’s GDP will amount to $296 billion by 2026. That’s a huge increase from $30 billion between 1995 and 1998, and the Tourism Council also expects the sector to generate nearly 29 million jobs in 2026

UNCTAD secretary-general, Mukhisa Kituyi says intra-African tourism, which now exceeds visitors from Europe, the United States and Asia is behind the fast growth in the industry.

“Also, importantly documented in this report is the fact that intra-African tourism is 12 months a year,” he said.

“It does not wait for the north in winter and that way it underpins more continuing livelihoods than the seasonal tourism associated with the traditional South markets.”

However, the current air transport situation is hindering tourism progress across the region, and Kituyi is calling for a more liberal approach to be taken to fully realize the potential of intraregional tourism for the continent’s economic growth.

Currently, he says four countries, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya, account for more than 90 percent of air traffic.

“Many countries that do not have a viable national airline, do not see the reason of giving concession for low-cost landing when there is no such benefit for their own airlines,” he said.

“And, what it means is that you start finding abnormally high landing costs for airlines from other African countries.”

Kituyi says this policy results in abnormally high costs for intra-African flying. This, he says, holds back the great potential that could widely contribute to the African tourism industry.